Arizona leaders are applauding the governor's decision to seek full expansion of Arizona's version of Medicaid in her State of the State Address on Monday.
Gov. Jan Brewer said that she has fought against the federal healthcare law known as the Affordable Care Act. But she cited President Barack Obama's re-election and last summer's U.S. Supreme Court ruling in saying that the law is here to stay.
Brewer said that expanding Medicaid will help poor Arizonans and help hospitals and caregivers who now must give care without pay.
In a statement after the governor's address, Betsey Bayless, president and CEO of the Maricopa Integrated Health System, called it "a historic moment."
"I applaud Gov. Brewer for her politically courageous decision to expand Arizona's Medicaid program, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System.
"The Governor has recognized the staggering human cost to Arizona families without health insurance and the increasing financial burden to hospitals can only be alleviated by taking strong action. The Governor also recognizes that AHCCCS is a national model and "gold standard" for cost-effective, managed care.
"It is to the Governor's credit that she has stepped forward and taken this position so forthrightly. The people of Arizona are well served by Gov. Brewer and her commitment to the people of this state."
Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry President and CEO Glenn Hamer also released a statement:
"This governor demonstrated today that she is not one to shy away from tough decisions. Her call to expand AHCCCS coverage was not an easy one, but she is right to seek ways to mitigate the effects of the hidden tax of uncompensated care felt by Arizona businesses and working families.
"As the Arizona Chamber Foundation found in its analysis of cost shifting that results from uncompensated care, hospitals are forced to shift the burden to private health insurers by charging higher rates that are borne by employers and other private insurance consumers.
"We applaud the governor for her strong leadership on this issue.
"On education, Gov. Brewer made a forceful case for the full implementation of Arizona's Common Core Standards. We support her desire to ensure that Arizona's students are prepared for higher education and tomorrow's workplace. We get there by ensuring that our standards are aligned with the expectations of today's competitive economy.
"On taxes, the governor and Legislature have made tremendous strides to make our tax code much more competitive. Creating a simpler and fairer sales tax system is the right area to tackle next. We look forward to helping advance substantive positive changes to our sales tax system in 2013.
"I was also encouraged by the governor's tribute to our men and women in uniform. The Chamber in 2013 will make it a priority to seek ways to integrate our veterans into the civilian workforce by allowing their skills obtained in military service to apply towards the acquisition of applicable state professional licenses or permits. It's the right thing to do for our vets and will better position Arizona to attract talented individuals to the state."
Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson issued a statement Tuesday, condemning Brewer for pledging to expand Medicaid.
"Governor Brewer has pledged to expand Medicaid under the Obamacare statute, which attempts to lure states into the program with promises of federal assistance. This expansion will still cost states at least $12 billion a year once the program is fully implemented, and billions more over the long-term.
"Arizona's expansion alone will cost federal taxpayers $2 billion from 2014-2019. Except there is not enough revenue to pay for Medicaid expansion. So it will have to be borrowed. Thanks to Governor Brewer, the American people will be paying interest on Arizona's Medicaid expansion for posterity.
"Overall, the burden being created by the expansion will add trillions of dollars to the national debt. Obamacare includes a massive expansion of the Medicaid program up to 133 percent of the poverty level. That means 23.8 million potential new enrollees. Which, at a current cost of about $4,950 per Medicaid recipient, will be a $117.8 billion annual, additional cost. And Governor Brewer is doing nothing to stop it.
"By implementing the Medicaid expansion, Brewer is forcing federal taxpayers to pay for what will ultimately prove to be an unsustainable expansion of the entitlement state. Hopefully, the Arizona legislature will have the courage to correct her mistake, and refuse to go along."
Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.